When summer comes, everyone wants to get outside and enjoy the wonderful weather. The warm months are a time to enjoy being outdoors with family and friends for picnics, barbecues, camping and a host of other fun activities.
While you’re outside having fun, a few basic safety practices can help keep everyone healthy and happy. Here are six basic outdoors safety tips from SABRE to help you get the most out of your summer fun.
Sunscreen is a must whenever the sun is shining. Of course, during the summer, the sun will be shining more intensely and more often. The rays are especially intense from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Using a good sunscreen can at the very least protect you, your friends and family from a painfully bad sunburn. Longer term, these products can help ward off skin cancer attributed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Use protective sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Use Insect Repellent
Although many beautiful plants and birds arrive with the advent of warmer weather, so do many pesky bugs. Mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and other biting insects can be a nuisance. Worse, they can transmit dangerous illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus and others.
Use a good bug spray to keep biting insects away. Generally, insect repellents with DEET are most effective, although you shouldn’t use DEET on infants. Natural insect repellent alternatives are also available.
Have a Safe Campfire
Summer is prime time for gathering around barbecues in the back yard or park to cook burgers and hot dogs. At campgrounds, it’s a fun tradition to get together around campfires to roast weenies and marshmallows and trade ghost stories. People also set off and watch fireworks on July 4 and other days and nights.
Fire is fun and useful but potentially dangerous. A bad burn can wreck a good summer event. Remember to be extremely careful around fire to avoid serious burns. Children especially should be kept under close watch.
When the weather gets hot, people like to go on or in the water to cool off. Whether you like to go boating, fishing, swimming or engage in some other water sport, make sure to respect the power of water.
Ocean tides and waves are extremely strong. Sneaker waves can crash on you suddenly and drag you out to sea. Rivers and lakes may harbor fallen trees, rocks and other obstructions underwater that you can’t see but which can snag and injure or drown you.
The pool and the beach are great places for kids to burn off excess energy. But always make sure an adult is present to keep children safe in the water. If you’re boating, Coast Guard rules require everyone to have a personal flotation device available.
Most animals will leave you alone if you don’t bother them. It’s smart if you come across an unfamiliar animal, whether domestic or wild, to keep your distance. It’s especially important to keep away from large, wild animals like bison, bears and other creatures that could cause you serious injury or even death.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid bears, however, if you are camping or hiking. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry bear spray if you are in bear country. If a bear becomes aggressive, spraying it can temporarily immobilize it, giving you time to get away.
You can help avoid close encounters with these animals by letting them know you’re in the area. Bear bells attached to a backpack, walking stick or other gear and announce your presence so you don’t surprise bears. Bear horns also announce your arrival. Simply pressing a button occasionally makes a loud sound to warn bears you’re on their turf.
Many wild animals, including bears, are attra
cted by food. That’s why it’s a good idea if you’re camping in bear country to keep your campsite tidy and to keep any food out of your tent and stowed away safely.
Bear canisters provide a good way to store and protect your chow while preventing it from attracting hungry bears. These waterproof, scent-proof containers keep your food safe and are a superior alternative to hoisting your food cache up in a tree. They are suitable for hiking as well as camping.
In city parks or on rural trails, domestic animals can also be a problem. When you’re hiking or biking, you may come across an aggressive dog. Carrying dog spray can help protect you, your family and your pets from canine attacks.
Although many folks worry about attacks from fearsome animals on land, like brawny bears, or toothy ocean beasts like sharks, these animals actually account for relatively few human attacks, injuries and fatalities. The fact is that when it comes to modern mayhem, the human animal far outdoes these relatively tranquil critters.
Of course, most humans are perfectly nice and friendly. But there are some really nasty exceptions out there too. If you happen to run into someone who means you harm, you want to be ready.
Pepper sprays and gels are one of the most effective, non-lethal ways to deter human attackers. If you are accosted, you can fire the spray and temporarily disable your assailant. That will give you time to get away and seek help.
Stun guns are another smart way to provide protection against attackers. Compact and affordable, these self-defense weapons deliver a jolt of electric current that can temporarily immobilize attackers. These devices are legal in most states, counties and cities, but there are exceptions. Make sure to familiarize yourself with applicable rules.Pepper spray and gel is legal in all 50 states, although some localities place restrictions on what you can carry. It’s smart to check out the rules for where you live or anyplace you’ll be visiting.
One other good thing to have on hand is a personal alarm. If you, a friend or loved one is threatened by someone, it’s easy to activate the alarm. This can summon help and may even scare the assailant off.